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January 14, 2011

Poetry Friday--Letters Between Poets Project

Other than purchasing poetry books and attending readings, you never really get a chance to put your money where your mouth is, when it comes to poetry. Now, the opportunity awaits you to support an interesting poetry project, "Letters Between Poets."

In his formative years as a poet, Wes McNair was mentored by Donald Hall. Now, McNair has proposed putting their correspondence online "so students and teachers can read them and learn what it’s like to develop as a poet." McNair sees the correspondence as a way to "give encouragement and guidance to other beginning poets and writers trying to find their way."

"Letters Between Poets" requires a modest amount of funding, $7,100, for its technical aspects. The push is on to raise the money, and if you visit the site over a period of a few days, you can see the total inching its way towards the goal. The fundraising comes to a close on the last day of January, so every dollar is important.

New Hampshire citizens are lucky to have these two poets within driving distance. I have seen both speak on more than one occasion and regard it as a gift. (I wrote about one such occasion back in 2008, click here.)

I'm sure you're all familiar with Donald Hall--he was a U.S. Poet Laureate five years ago, but, you may not be familiar with Wes McNair. If that is the case, then let me introduce you:
Small Towns are Passing
by Wesley McNair

Small towns are passing
into the rear-view
mirrors of our cars.
The white houses
are moving away,
wrapping trees
around themselves,
and stores are taking
their gas pumps
down the street
backwards. Just like that
whole families picnicking
on their lawns tilt
over the hill,
and kids on bikes
ride toward us
off the horizon,
leaving no trace
of where they have gone.
Signs turn back and start
after them. Packs of mailboxes,
like dogs, chase them
around corner after corner.

from Lovers of the Lost (David R. Godine, 2010)
You can listen to the poet reading "Small Towns are Passing" by clicking here.

Join Laura Salas for this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up.


  1. Yet another reason why I'd like to live in New Hampshire...

  2. I love the images in this poem, the off-kilter perspective feels so right! I love the gas pumps going down the street backward and esp the mailboxes chasing signs--fun!

  3. This is a wonderful project. How exciting. And I love the poem. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I expected something entirely different from that poem, probably because I projected what is happening in my small town. With each new strip mall or fast food franchise, it's passing right before my eyes.

  5. Thanks ladies! I checked the "Letters between Poets" page this morning, and there's only $500 left to raise by the end of the month. It looks do-able.

    Andy, you should be thankful that the CVS didn't move in on your corner!

  6. I love the idea of live poetification through letters--I'll go spare some change. I'm late this week for my reading, but already benefiting from the Jay Smooth video link for MLK Day--up on my facebook status already!

    Thanks, Diane!

  7. The project reached its goal this weekend! But, money is still being accepted and it will be applied to a "search" feature on the proposed site.

    There is no "late," Heidi--what was good/funny/educational on Friday will remain so! All readers are welcomed.

  8. Donald Hall, of course, also had a wonderful love story (in his life, not his writing).

    This site often brings up something I hadn't heard about anywhere else. Thanks for letting us know about this project.